Gift of the Nile
Egypt is actually a wonderful and delightful mixture of traditions,
with a socio-economic structure, which allows, more and more,
a gradient of classes. But one must look, and feel with the
heart in order to touch this essence of Egypt.
SHARM EL - SHEIKH
The region of Sharm
El - Sheikh is actually a series of bays with innumerable
and extraordinary coral reefs. It is located on the
east shore at the southernmost tip of the Sinai Peninsula.
Sharm El - Sheikh has become the leading tourist spot of the
entire Sinai and a Mecca for divers.
Though Sharm El - Sheikh, Ras Mohammad and Tiran Island appear
on Spanish maps as early as 1762, the first time Sharm El
- Sheikh made its way into the world’s media was in
1967, when Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser blocked
the Strait of Tiran, cutting off Israel’s access to
the Red Sea.
The blockade of this strategic point led to the 6-Day War
and the occupation of the Sinai by Israel.
One year later in 1968 the Israelis built the settlement Ophira
on the cliff of Ras Um Sidd. This today is the "old city"
of Sharm El Sheikh.
SHORT HISTORY OF EGYPT
From the Dynasty of the Pharaohs to Husni
Egyptian history is inextricably tied to the
Around 5000 years ago the independent riverfront states were
unified under the rule of Menes, giving rise to the first
dynasty of pharaohs. The pharaohs ruled over a highly stratified
society. The first pyramid was built in the 27th century BC.
Monarchical power was at its greatest during the 4th dynasty.
Through the 6th and 7th dynasties power was diffused and small
principalities began to appear.
Under Montuhotep II, Egypt again came under control of a single
pharaoh. From 1550 to 1069 BC, the New Kingdom bloomed under
rulers such as Tuthmosis I, the first pharaoh to be entombed
in the Valley of the Kings; his daughter Hatshepsut, one of
Egypt's few female pharaohs; and Tuthmosis III, Egypt's greatest
conqueror, who expanded the empire into western Asia.
||Amenhotep IV renounced the teachings
of the priesthood. He and his wife Nefertiti established a new
capital called Akhetaten devoted solely to the new god. Akhenaten's
son was Tutankhamun, who ruled Egypt for nine
years then died while still a teenager. Thereafter, Egypt was
ruled by generals: Ramses I, II and III (see picture),
and Seti I. They built massive monuments and temples, but the
empire began to crumble and it was in disarray when the Greek
conqueror Alexander the Great arrived in 332
BC and established a new capital.
|Under Ptolemy I, Alexandria
became a great city. The Ptolemies ruled Egypt for 300 years.
An expanded Roman empire began taking an interest in Egypt and
the scene was set for one of the ancient world's more celebrated
||Between 51 and 48 BC, Egypt was
ruled by Ptolemy XIII and his sister Cleopatra
VIII (see picture), Julius Caesar
came to Egypt, threw Ptolemy into the Nile, appointed another
of Cleopatra's brothers, Ptolemy XIV, as joint leader, and became
|The Roman Empire fell
apart in the 3rd and 4th centuries, and Nubians, North Africans
and Persians invaded. Despite this, Egypt was relatively stable
until AD 640 when the Arabs arrived. The Arabs brought Islam
to Egypt and established Fustat (on the site of present-day
Cairo) as the seat of an unstable government. Ultimately it
was the Fatimids who came to control Egypt, building the city
of Al-Qahira (Cairo). Egypt prospered under the Fatimids and
Cairo became a thriving metropolis.
||Western European Christians
seized much of the weakening Fatimid Empire in the Crusades
of the 11th century, but in 1187 the Syrian-based Seljuks
sent an army into Egypt and Salah ad-Din (Saladin) fortified
Cairo and expelled the Crusaders from Jerusalem. Salah ad-Din
enlisted Mamluks (Turkish mercenaries), but they ended up overthrowing
his dynasty and ruled for two and a half centuries before Egypt
fell to the Turks in 1517. Napoleon
(see picture) invaded in 1798, only to be ousted by
the British in 1801, which were in turn expelled
by Mohammed Ali, a lieutenant in the Albanian contingent of
the Ottoman army.
Egypt aligned itself with the Allies, King Fuad I was elected
head of the constitutional monarchy and for the next 30 years
the British, the monarchists and the Wafdists jockeyed for power.
||The Arab League
was founded after WWII by seven Arab countries,
including Egypt, but the war had left Egypt in a shambles, and
its defeat in Israel's 1948 War of Independence saw the chaos
escalate. In 1952 a group of dissident military officers, led
by Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser (see picture), orchestrated
a bloodless coup. The British and French refused to relinquish
control, so they invaded. Nasser became a hero, particularly
Nasser attempted to unite Egypt,
Syria, Yemen and later Iraq in the late 1950s, emphasizing
Arab unity and demonizing Israel. Following months of heightening
tension between Egypt and Israel, the Jewish state attacked
on 5 June 1967, starting the Six Day War.
Israel destroyed the Egyptian air force, captured Sinai and
closed the Suez Canal.
Anwar Sadat, Nasser's vice president, took
over from Nasser in 1970, and set about improving relations
with the west.
On 6 October 1973, the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur,
Egypt launched a surprise attack on the Israeli occupiers
of Sinai. In 1977 Sadat began making peace with Israel, leading
to the 1979 Camp David Agreement. Israel agreed to withdraw
from Sinai, and Egypt officially recognized Israel. Many in
the Arab world felt Sadat had betrayed them, and he was assassinated
on 6 October 1981.
Husni Mubarak, Sadat's vice president, was
sworn in and has been the country's leader ever since.
Source: Lonely planet
WHAT TO SEE
Egypt: beyond Beaches, Nature, Culture and
Adventure, captures the unique selling proposition that the
destination offers. Ancient Pyramids, Temples and Statue’s,
thousands of years old culture, friendly people, seven world
heritage sites and much more.
Please read our brochure Into Culture,
Into the Blue and Into
the Desert for more.
There are plenty of good opportunities for
swimming on the many fine beaches along Egypt's
Mediterranean and Red Sea coasts. Diving
and snorkelling are by far the most popular
organised activities in Egypt, and the Red Sea is said to
have some of the best scuba diving in the world. The waters
off Egypt teem with underwater life and the corals, crustaceans
and fish come in all sorts of vivid colours and shapes..
An exciting adventure is a ride out into the
desert on camel or horseback or exploring the Sinai by jeep.
Jeep safaris are also very popular, either
in the Western Desert with its fantastic sand landscapes or
in the rugged, rocky surrounds of Sinai. The terrific interior
of the Sinai desert invites for adventurous and fascinating
trips as hiring quad runners and motorbikes, and partaking
in a guided excursion into the desert.
You will not find any shopping malls. You
can purchase local handcrafts such as jewellery, ceramic,
paintings and embroidery in the little shops in the streets
in and around any city. Brand name clothing is also available
in the more specialized shops.
Bargaining is a part of life in Egypt
and virtually everything is open to negotiation. This
includes your room for the night, your lunchtime roadside
snack and the felucca you ride down the Nile in. The few rules
to observe in the bazaars are these: never offer a price that
you're not prepared to pay, get a feel for the real price
before you begin haggling, take your time and enjoy the friendly
sport of it (which might include a cup of tea from the vendor),
and remember that you're never obliged to buy anything - you
won't offend anyone.
food & Drinks
In Egypt, as in the rest of the world, restaurants are only
as good as the cooks they employ, and cooks seem to be continually
Many of the smaller, Egyptian-style restaurants specialize
in basic meat and fava-bean dishes. They are simple and inexpensive.
Waiters speak little English, so use your phrase book.
Drinks and Alcohol
Although devout Muslims refrain from drinking alcohol, beer,
wine, and hard liquor are
available in bars, restaurants, and some grocery shops. Imported
beer and wine are the most expensive, but the local beer called
Stella is a light lager that is quite good. Marzen, a dark,
bock beer, appears briefly during the spring; Aswanli is the
dark beer made in Aswan.
Brandy is drinkable only when diluted, and the local rum is
not much better. However, zibib, the Egyptian version of Greek
ouzo or Mexican anasato, is good either on the rocks or diluted
with water (which turns it milky). Other hard liquors are
imported and therefore are limited. If you drink regularly,
plan on stocking up at a duty-free store before you enter
The Islamic (or Hejira) calendar is a full
11 days shorter than the Gregorian (western) calendar, so
public holidays and festivals fall 11 days earlier each year.
You can hire service taxis that shunt car
loads of passengers between towns and cities.
There are cars for rent, buses for local traffic (make a price
deal in advance) and luxurious coaches with air-conditioning
for longer trips.
Every resort has got its own bar with different happy hour
offers. An evening stroll along the promenade gives you an
insight of what the beach bars of the hotels have to offer
for the evening. Some hotels entertain their guests with belly
dancing performances and with the ever popular Russian dance
shows. After the shows you can dance the night through in
one of Sharm’s discos.
Some hotels offer special evening events which are usually
a dinner and disco or show in the desert under the million
Camels, buffalo and donkeys are the most prevalent
animals to be found in Egypt. As for desert wildlife, the
gazelle, jackal, jerboa and desert fox are indigenous to the
country, as are lizards and several venomous snakes.
||Egypt is also one of the greatest
centres of Arabian horse breeding in the world with large government-controlled
stud farms under the auspices of the Egyptian Agricultural Organization.
There are about
200 species of migratory birds and 150 species of local birds,
including the marsh sandpiper, spoonbill, pink flamingo, hoopoe,
heron, stork, quail, egret and golden oriole. Eagles, falcons,
vultures, hawks and owls are among the birds of prey to be
found. Egypt also has a plethora of insect life, including
mosquitoes, flies, fleas and scorpions. There are said to
be as many as 190 species of fish in the Nile and many more
in the Mediterranean and Red seas.
Although the lotus and papyrus are symbols of Egypt, it is
the date palm that dominates the landscape. The Nile Delta
and the Nile River Valley have a rich variety of trees --
some indigenous, some imported -- including the tamarisk,
acacia, eucalyptus, mimosa, jacaranda, cypress and sycamore
as well as a wide variety of fruit trees from citrus to fig
Other fruits and vegetables flourish in the fertile land
along the Nile, as well as a vivid array of flowers from the
rose, Poinciana, lotus (of course), jasmine, lily and bird
of paradise. A multiplicity of grasses grows along the Nile
Egypt's most valuable mineral resource is oil, although the
country also has gold deposits as well as iron ore, manganese,
phosphates and uranium.
Originally Nubian villages were closely knit, celebrating
births and marriages with village-wide festivals, rituals
that always included the river. The newborn child was washed
in its life-giving flow, and at circumcision his foreskin
was tossed as an offering into the river. A bride and groom
bathed separately in the fertile waters on the eve of their
marriage, then again at dawn, together. After a death, at
the end of mourning, the women came to the waters to wash
from their faces the mud and blue dye that had been their
badge of sorrow, and offer henna and perfume to the spirits
of the river. Although the Nubians converted first to Christianity
and then to Islam, beliefs in the water angels persist, and
the people continue to petition these spirits for favours
short fact sheet
All visitors to Egypt are required to have a visa and a passport
valid for six months. Visas can be arranged through Egyptian
embassies worldwide. Visitors from the US, Canada, EU and
GCC countries may be able to purchase a visa stamp upon arrival
at many large airports. One-month visitor's visas can be extended.
Bilharzia (don't paddle in the Nile!)
See your doctor at least 4-6 weeks before your trip to allow
time for shots to take effect.
Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG).
Hepatitis B if you might be exposed to blood (for example,
health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population,
stay longer than 6 months in the region, or be exposed through
Rabies, if you might be exposed to wild or domestic animals
through your work or recreation.
Typhoid, particularly if you are visiting developing countries
in this region.
As needed, booster doses for tetanus, diphtheria, measles,
and a one-time dose of polio vaccine for adults. Hepatitis
B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children
ages 11-12 years who did not complete the series as infants.
To Avoid Getting Sick
Don't eat food purchased from street vendors.
Don't drink beverages with ice.
Don't eat dairy products unless you know they have been pasteurized.
Don't share needles with anyone.
Don't handle animals (especially monkeys, dogs, and cats),
to avoid bites and serious diseases (including rabies and
Don't swim in fresh water, including the Nile. Salt water
is usually safer.
What You Need To Bring with You
Long-sleeved shirt and long pants to wear while outside whenever
possible, to prevent illnesses carried by insects (e.g., malaria,
dengue, filariasis, leishmaniasis, and onchocerciasis).
Insect repellent containing DEET (diethylmethyltoluamide),
in 30percent-35percent strength for adults and 6percent-10percent
for children. Unless you are staying in air-conditioned or
well-screened housing, purchase a bed net impregnated with
the insecticide permethrin. (Bed nets can be purchased in
camping or military supply stores.)
Over-the-counter antidiarrheal medicine to take if you have
Iodine tablets and water filters to purify water if bottled
water is not available. See Do's above for more detailed information
about water filters. Prescription medications: make sure you
have enough to last during your trip, as well as a copy of
After You Return Home
If you have visited an area where there is risk for malaria,
continue taking your malaria medication weekly for 4 weeks
after you leave the area.
If you become ill after your trip--even as long as a year
after you return--tell your doctor where you have traveled.
GMT/UTC plus two hours
220V, 50 Hz
Money & Costs
Budget: US$2 –4
Mid-range: US$6 – 8
Top-end US$8 and upwards
Budget: US$3 –8
Mid-range: US$8 – 40
Top-end US$40 and upwards
Egypt is terrific value. It is possible to
spend as little as US$15 a day if you're prepared to stay
in the cheapest hotels and hostels, eat local vendors' food,
limit yourself to one historic site a day and travel on packed
Well-known brands of travelers' cheques will
be honored everywhere, although having travelers' cheques
in US dollars or UK pounds will prove the most hassle-free.
American Express, Visa, MasterCard, JCB and Euro cards are
accepted at various stores and hotels displaying the appropriate
signage. Visa and MasterCard can be used to obtain cash advances
at Banque Misr and National Bank of Egypt branches.
Be aware that pickpockets operate around tourist
sites, so avoid carrying money in your back pocket.
A service charge of 12% applies in restaurants and hotels,
and a sales tax of 5-7% is also levied. Additionally, you
might find yourself paying a further 1-4% tax on upper-end
accommodation, so it is possible to find that a 23% tax has
been added to the price you've been quoted for a mid-range
or top-end hotel room.
Deciding when to come to Egypt depends a lot
on where you want to go. Everywhere south of Cairo is uncomfortably
hot in the summer months (June-August), especially Luxor and
Aswan, so winter December-February is definitely the
best time to visit these areas. Summer is also the
time when the Mediterranean coast is at its most crowded,
but winter in Cairo can get pretty cool. March to May is the
best time to enjoy the warm days without the crush of bodies
on the beaches and the midday heat of high summer.
Full country name: Arab Republic of Egypt
Area: 1,001,449 sq km (622,272 sq mi)
Capital city: Cairo
Berbers, Bedouins and Nubians
Religion: 94% Islam, 6% Christian
Mohammed Husni Mubarak